Viet Nam News
Lương Ngọc Khuê, director general of the Medical Examination and Treatment Department, talks to Thời báo Kinh tế Việt Nam (Vietnam Economic Times) about the Ministry of Health’s resolve to tighten control of private clinic operations.
What are the challenges that the Ministry of Health has been facing in supervising private clinics?
Việt Nam now has 205 private hospitals and over 30,000 consultation rooms. Private hospitals account for 16 per cent of the country’s total and hospital beds for 5.5 per cent of the country’s hospital beds.
In 2016, more than 12 million patients were examined and treated at private facilities, one-third of them using health insurance cards.
In my opinion, the private health sector has greatly contributed to the broader health coverage of the population nationwide. It has also reduced the burden on the public health sector.
However due to negligence, some private health clinics have violated medical ethics, for example by employing staff without proper professional certificates. As a result, some serious accidents occurred, eroding the people’s confidence in the health sector.
The private health sector is also plagued by high staff turnover but owners often fail to report personnel changes to oversight authorities.
In your opinion, how can the private health sector be improved?
The Ministry of Health (MOH) will continue to complete the legal framework to enable private health sector to operate. At the same time, we will tighten the rules for granting licences to new clinics or hospitals. We also pledge to sanction any individuals or organisations that have violated ethics or Vietnamese laws.
The MOH will closely monitor all private health practitioners’ advertisements. If any violations are detected, they will be given due punishment immediately.
In addition, the MOH will step up its management over the entry, exit and residency of foreigners to deter entry for the purpose of illegal medical practice or illegal activities against the country.
What about private-public partnerships to improve the quality of health examination and treatment?
Given budget limitations, we should make the best use of available resources to improve the service quality of our health sector.
Experience of the past few years has shown that foreign loans and private-public partnerships in infrastructure construction of quite a few public hospitals have yielded positive results. Cases in points are the National Institute of Haematology-Blood Transfusion, the Huế Central National Hospital, the Việt Nam-German Hospital in Hà Nội, and others.
I am totally confident that the good practice of private-public partnership will encourage many individuals and organisations to invest in the health service sector to provide good universal health coverage to all people and a level playing field to both public and private hospitals. — VNS